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Old 01-05-2009, 02:19 PM   #1
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L5 bulge... doc says pain higher impossible. True?

Hi, everyone. I have a moderate bulge in my L5 disk. A small part of it has actually herniated. My symptoms (burning, tingling, pricky, pain, etc.) began in my feet and my knees. Basically, I feel like I have sunburn. Over the past few months, this sensation has spread to my lower back, and my arms (it's even in my hands). My spine doc says that the L5 buldge could not be doing this, as L5 would account for only stuff below my waist. I don't know what to think. I have had many tests done and my L5 buldge is the only thing that they can find wrong with me. Thoughts?

Also, do people think physical therapy can work for an L5 buldge/slight herniation? I've done some of it, to no avail. I've also tried a shot in my L5, which didn't help. I'm thinking a bit about surgery, but I don't want to rush into that.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Thanks.

M

 
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Old 01-05-2009, 03:19 PM   #2
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Re: L5 bulge...doc says pain higher impossible. True?

I am just 2 weeks out of back surgery. I had a slipped disk and a disk that literally had shattered, but I had injured my back 4 yrs ago. So, for 4 yrs I had non-invasive procedures: chiroprator, massage, physical therapy, injections, radio-frequency....some of this helped, but only short term...I got tired of the pain and that's how I finally decided on surgery.....too soon to tell how it went....but I'm hoping that the pain at least cuts back....surgery is serious business and not for sissies....the hospital stay (3 days) was the worst of the pain I've ever experienced. The pain now is a bit more tolerable, though I am still off work and not able to drive. Sleeping is still tough...trouble rolling over...I was cut in the lower back for what they call a laminectomy and also cut on my left side just under the ribs for what they call a X-Lateral Interbody Fusion...this is the area where the disk was all but gone....they built what they call a cage in hopes that the area will fuse....good luck...

 
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Old 01-05-2009, 03:32 PM   #3
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Re: L5 bulge...doc says pain higher impossible. True?

Sorry to hear about your pain. I also have a bulge in same area with two degenerated disks L4/L5. I had two steriod injections to SI last year and nerve root injection just last week. My pain is major tonight and I'll be posting my own "help me" message after this one!I tried Physical therapy and the therapist said it was not helping my problem (10 sessions including one very painful acupuncture session in which my spasm actually bent the needle). I'm going to give the core stability exrecises one major last try as I have heard it can work if you give it six good months. Good luck with yours.
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MRI:
1.Dehydrated disc L4/5, L5/S1
2. 7.5mm Tarlov cyst at level of S2
3. L5/C1 diffuse disc bulge extending into right extra foramina area and impinging on exiting nerve root.

 
Old 01-05-2009, 03:57 PM   #4
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Re: L5 bulge... doc says pain higher impossible. True?

Marlow,
ave you had a MRI of your cervical spine? I also was diagnosed with mild to moderate bulges in L4-5 and my symptoms were similar, except I also had balance problems. I wasn't diagnosed properly for a year, when I found that I had major spinal compression in my cervical spine, and subsequent surgery. They also said my lumbar couldn't account for my symptoms, but didn't really look farther until I had such bad neuropathy in my feet. Hope you get the right answers.
Kay

 
Old 01-05-2009, 04:58 PM   #5
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Re: L5 bulge... doc says pain higher impossible. True?

M,
Do you lean on your arms/elbows a lot? Or sleep with your arm bent at the elbow? If so, that may account for your hand and arm symptoms. It may be ulnar neuropathy. An emg can show if there is a problem with the nerves in the elbow or cervical area.
Your surgeon is correct that the symptoms in your hands and arms would not be coming from a disc problem or a nerve compression in the lumbar area.
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Old 01-06-2009, 09:49 AM   #6
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Re: L5 bulge...doc says pain higher impossible. True?

Thank you, everyone, for your posts. I appreciate the feedback very much... Pat, I'm sorry that you just had fairly major surgery. I hope that it helps with your situation. Fingers crossed that you'll soon be leading a less painful life... Jacqueline, what is your pain like? Sounds like we have a similar deal. I need to be better about physical therapy. I haven't been good about it, as my job has been very time consuming. But I need to work more on my core muscles. Sorry to hear about your pain... Kay, your comments re the cervical MRI are interesting. They are interesting because I have also had balance problems for many years. My cervical MRI came back pretty clean, though. A minor protrusion somewhere, but two different docs didn't believe that it could be causing me any trouble... Back, yes, one doc did say that he thinks I have ulnar neuropathy. He felt my eblows kind of 'click' and felt the nerve move. But what I don't understand is that suddenly all of these burning sensations flared up all over my body (feet, calves, butt, back, arms, etc.). Maybe I do have UN, but I don't understand why so many other areas of my body would suddenly also be tingling/burning. Thoughts? Thanks, everyone!!! - M

 
Old 01-06-2009, 05:17 PM   #7
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Re: L5 bulge... doc says pain higher impossible. True?

Marlow,
To clarify my symptoms that led to cervical diagnosis, I was receiving steroid injections for the lumbar, but not much change. I was steadily having more numbness and tingling in my elbows and weakness in hands and numbness in right little finger and ring finger. That indicates ulnar nerve involvement, but until I had such hyper reflexes in my feet, no one really looked to the cervical. I went to a podiatrist and they had to hold my leg down to cut my nails. It jerked so much. It was the podiatrist that urged me to get further tests. My neurosurgeon tested my hand strength every visit, still does. I regained function and strength with PT after surgery, but still have numbness, paresthesia, etc. I also had a fall during all this which made things worse. I fell and landed the back of my neck and head on the base of a granite cemetary monument. It was a miracle I wasn't killed. That began the increase of all my symptoms, but I had some cervical problems before that fall, since the weakness in both legs was from the spinal cord problem.
Hope you get to the bottom of your symptoms. Kay

 
Old 01-07-2009, 04:37 PM   #8
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Re: L5 bulge... doc says pain higher impossible. True?

Kay,

Thanks so much for all of your additional information. I appreciate your thoughts and advice. I'm sorry to hear about your fall, and I hope that you feel better as well.

Thanks so much.

M

 
Old 01-07-2009, 06:37 PM   #9
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Re: L5 bulge... doc says pain higher impossible. True?

I think it would be very helpful for you to look at a real good nerve chart....I cant recall the technical name but they pin point symptoms and specific nerves....it helped me soooo much.

anyone recall the chart name?(it shows what each disc affects in your body)

Good luck

Devon

 
Old 01-08-2009, 09:02 AM   #10
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Re: L5 bulge... doc says pain higher impossible. True?

Devon,

Thanks a million for the suggestion. I don't know what a 'nerve chart' is. Is that when they test your nerves to see what's working? Thanks! - Marlow

 
Old 01-08-2009, 09:34 AM   #11
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Re: L5 bulge... doc says pain higher impossible. True?

hiya marlow.....

Usually if you have a burning sensation somewhere....that is an indication that a nerve is involved. I just had fusion surgery on my l4-5 and l5-s1 about 3 weeks ago. I didnot have a burning sensation due to my bad disc. I did have a slight nerve impingement tho. It involved some pain in my hiney and down the back of my right leg. Are you having pain down your legs? I think having a bulge in your L-5 disc would just bring syptoms below your waist. It would not include cervical issues. I had a cervical fusion long ago. I have DDD and seems I am getting bulging and worn out disc as I age. I had bad back issues for a very long time before it got to a point I couldnt tolerate it anymore. I also was in 2 car accidents at the beginning of 08. The accidents just caused all the problems to become chronic pain. I did all of the conservative treatments a person could have. After months and months of all the treatments, my neuro doc and my pain man. doc decided that I needed a fusion. I cant tell just yet if the fusion took. I am still early into recovery. I suffered a seriously bad nerve flare up over this last weekend that led me back into the hospital to get pain under control. I am feeling better as far as the nerve flare up now. I was put on different medication for that and it has helped tremendously. The nerve flare up involved serious pain in my right leg.......so, maybe reading this.....it might help you? If you have any questions....just ask. I have had all treatments that you can have so maybe i can be of help to you about your back? Good luck and hope you feel better soon.

LYNN

 
Old 01-09-2009, 10:18 AM   #12
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Re: L5 bulge... doc says pain higher impossible. True?

hiya Marlow.....

Did you have a MRI on your cervical area? If you are suffering in your arms.....that is an indication you have a cervical issue. Before my cervical fusion.....I had numbness and pain down both arms into my fingers. You can have both issues going on at 1 time. Did a doc ever say you have DDD? DDD is a disease that will effect many disc. the disease wears out the disc. If you are having burning and tingling and numbness in your legs, that means a nerve is involved. I was put on lyrica when i had the bad nerve flare up after my recent fusion surgery. I also had an injection as well. I am much better. The injections are done to help with imflamation. I hope you get relief from the injection you had. I always got some relief from the injections but it just didnot last. Are you on medications to help with pain and nerve flare ups? Is your docs recommending surgery? If so......ask for a discogram test. It will definately tell if the pain you are having is coming from your disc. Good luck and I hope you do get some relief.....I KNOW the pain you are feeling. Its not pleasant...ugh

LYNN

 
Old 01-10-2009, 08:59 AM   #13
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Re: L5 bulge... doc says pain higher impossible. True?

Lynn,

Thanks so much for your thoughts. Yes, I get pain down through my arms to my fingertips. I also have it all the way down my legs to my toes. Weird. My cervical MRI says that I have a small, less than 3 mm protrusion at my C5-6, but the docs don't think that it is pressing on any nerves. I don't know. I don't think I have DDD, but I'll ask about it. I have bulging disks at L5 and T5, so my back is definitely somewhat messed up. I'm glad that your injections helped you. Hopefully the one I had 36 hours ago will help. I've tried Lyrica, but it didn't do anything for me. I may try one of its sister meds. I'll definitely ask about that test. Thanks for letting me know about it. I'm having some sort of nerve conduction test in two weeks, so that will be interesting. I really appreciate your advice, and am glad to hear that you're feeling better. That's great. Thanks again!!! - M

 
Old 01-10-2009, 03:46 PM   #14
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Re: L5 bulge... doc says pain higher impossible. True?

Your symptoms sound systemic another words some kind of illness that has not been diagnosed. I wouldn't slough it off as related to discs in the neck or lower back. You need to have a full physical workup done. Your doctor is correct your symptoms are not related.

There are other diseases that can effect your central nervous system. I suggest you ask your doctors advice on getting a diagnosis instead of trying to figure it out on your own. You need a full workup!!!!!! See if you can get a good referral to a neurologist. People on this board tend to relate everything to spinal problems but in doing so other diseases and causes can get overlooked.

These boards are are good resource but they can never take the place of a thorough medical examination.
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Old 01-10-2009, 09:26 PM   #15
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Re: L5 bulge... doc says pain higher impossible. True?

Marlow, I firmly believe that lower levels do cause pain higher and lower in your back. I have had lots of upper back pain and according to my surgeon,

1. it is partially from the inflammation of the muscles - it can go up or down below the irritated/problem site.
2. if you injure yourself anywhere it is normal to baby it/walk differently to help ease the pain therefore it can put additional stress on surrounding areas.
3. if you have hardware - lets say you are fused at L4/L5 it is common for the next level up or below the fusion to eventually weaken and other surgery may be needed down the road. The area they fuse can't move because it has been stabilized with screws and rods to hold it in place; hence, it puts added pressure on the areas directly above and below it.

Lastly, remember it is always possible that a MRI, CT Scan, or Mylegram may be normal or it may show problems at a different area. This is why so many drs order a discogram before surgery to confirm your pain generator. My case is a good example of why discograms are done. When I had these other tests done before my discogram L3, L4 looked normal; however, there was visible problems at other levels. When they performed the discogram, we were suprised to see that L3 and L4 looked NORMAL; however, they were clearly a huge pain generator for me.

When I had my surgery done in December my fusion was extended based upon this discogram test and when my surgeon got in surgically it was clear that L3 and L4 were leaking fluid from the discs and definitely abnormal.

L3 and L4 were responsible for my upper back pain above my known problems areas.

So, if you have continued upper pain, you might ask your dr if it could be a result of one of these things.

Hope this helps.

 
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